The Lovely Leading Lady. The Brave Courageous Hero.
That is what we each are in the stories of our own lives. The main character and the headlining star.
Do you feel like the star character in the story of your life?
When I think of a leading lady, I think of the words gorgeous, alluring, vibrant and brilliant. All words I have deeply wished would be used to describe me. However, I’m more along the lines of smart, hardworking, kind and…wait for it…nice. Deep Sigh
Nice. What a boring word. I hated being called this when I was younger. Why? Because nice is plain, boring and easy to overlook. That is not exactly the kind of descriptive word I was hoping to be the headline my life. The spotlight does not shine for long upon someone who is just NICE.
I have struggled and wrestled with longing to be the leading lady. When I was a young lady in business school I longed to be a CEO with vision and passion. I wanted to see my name in the print of the Wall Street Journal and to be interviewed live on CNBC. Maybe even have a chance to ring the bell at the New York stock exchange. I dreamed that I could be an inspiration to young girls everywhere that loved pretending to play office instead of playing house.
The path of my life has gone a little bit, ok much, differently than I had originally planned. Turns out that a life like that comes with a lot of stress, a lot of hard decisions and a lot of strong leadership skills. Believe me I have WORKED to become a strong leader. I have taken leadership training classes, attended seminars and read more books than I can count on the subject. Because, you know, leaders are not born they are developed.
Don’t get me wrong, I have learned and grown immensely because of the energy, effort and expense put into becoming a good leader. I have also spent a great deal of time being downright discouraged and exhausted because of it. Why did it seem to take so much to result in so little?
Innate leadership talent. That is something that I have come to conclude is not what I am wired with. I am really talented, but just not in the area of leadership. I am pretty darn sure that that my eulogy will not include a CEO listing, my biography will like not include the names CNBC or Wall Street Journal. At this point in my life, I am completely okay with that.
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)
As an encourager, I am much more of a supporter than a leader. I like to think of myself as a pretty awesome support person. Support people tend to be very smart, kind, hardworking and nice. For me, I have found that I get a HUGE return out of the energy, effort and expense that I put into being a better support person.
A supportive wife, supportive mom, supportive team mate, supportive colleague and supportive friend. The list could continue on and on and on. All good things to be. I also just want to say that supportive individuals are not always hidden away behind the curtains or in a back room. I personally love public speaking.
But here is the perplexing question that I face; how does a supportive personality type still manage to be the leading lady of her own life? How do I not write myself into a supportive role, or even worse, how do I keep from setting my own story aside to just serve a supporting role in the story of others?
Do you every feel as if you are not in the spotlight of your story?
A favorite Jim Rohn quote of mine is, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
I have a double dose of trouble being a supportive personality and I have a life long case of wanting to please others. Which has meant for me in the past, that I get off my own path to attempt to assist others on their path or that I leave my story pages blank to go help others work on their own stories.
More than anything, I long to be on the path God has for me. I want to be the star of my story as a part of His-tory. So how do we do that?
How can I be a Supportive Leading Lady?
"Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways." Proverbs 4:25-25 (NIV)
Fix My Eyes
Are my eyes focused? What are they focused on?
Do I have wandering eyes? Do I keep my eyes on my story or do they drift around taking in, and even envying, the brilliant happenings in the lives of others? How can I hold my attention, to fix my eyes on my story and my path?
For me, it’s a matter of triggers and reminders. What can we put in place in life to help us remember? What is it that is going to trigger thoughts in our minds that help focus our eyes?
Here’s what some of my reminders look like. They are pictures, stickers, notes that I wrote, and great things I ripped out of books. They are note cards and text messages that I save. All strategically placed around my life to help me remember.
Do I move through my day with purpose and intention or do the winds of distraction blow me off course? Do I give careful thought to my steps or do I play a game of pong bouncing between the boundaries of my responsibilities and the paddles of my to do list?
I confess that often times I am more inadvertent with my thoughts than full of care. Some days it is as if my mind goes through vigorous spin cycles with one or two thoughts that tumble repeatedly as I attempt to do other things, like laundry or cleaning or some type of project with my hands. Not focus on the task but rather the thoughts.
Other times my mind is a sprinkling of thoughts being splashed about and landing all over. Which looks a little something like this…”Oh, Eric told me we were almost out of vanilla. I need to add that to the grocery list on the fridge. I really should look at Sam’s Club for vanilla. We use a lot of vanilla. I was just at Sam’s Club last weekend. Why didn’t I look then. Because I wasn’t thinking about baking. Oh that reminds me there are apples in the fridge. I should dig out that recipe for apple coffee cake and make that for Eric. Why is there a chocolate fingerprint on the handle of the fridge. That is gross. Let me clean that up. What was I going to write on the list again…toothpaste for the kids. Yes, that’s it. Wait no, I think it was something else. There’s the phone, it’s Eric I better take it.”
Did I mention that when my mind wanders, my body tends to wander too? Upstairs, downstairs. In the kitchen, to the living room, bathroom, bedroom, dining room and back to the kitchen.
Think before you step. Speak the thought. Write the thought down.
I have found it tremendously helpful to speak out loud to myself or write down that purposeful, careful step that I need to take. Even declaring it to others can make us more accountable to it. At breakfast this morning I declared to my family that I was going to use today as a day to work on my writing.
I do have to warn you to be careful where you are speaking out loud to yourself…it can be misunderstood and potentially embarrassing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Oh do I have stories about that…but that’s for another day.
Am I devoted and determined to be the star of my story? Do I have an enthusiasm for my path or do I easily get distracted away? Do I have fortitude to grit out the challenging and hard parts.
Devoted and determined. That is what I want to be, but I often find myself diverted and distracted. I can go down paths that look like they could maybe be my path, getting diverted. I also wander off curious by a noise, sound, idea, conversation or some other type of distraction.
Pray. Steadfastness is an area where I have found prayer to be immensely helpful in my life. This is true both of the prayers that I offer up on my own and having others pray for me.
Honestly, I had my daughter pray for me to remain focused on writing this morning, that I would not get caught up in other things and lose time. It has not been easy. I have already trashed one draft of a post today. This one has been on the verge of crashing several times.
It takes strength to remain steadfast, much of the time a divine strength is needed.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
Fix our eyes. Give careful thought to our steps. Pray for the strength to remain steadfast. Even with a huge heart that longs step out to lovingly support the stories of others we can still remain the star of our own story and progress down the path that God has for each of us.
The Lovely Leading Lady. The Brave Courageous Hero.
Thank you so much for the amazing talents that You have given to each of us. Lord help keep our eyes fixed upon the talents that You have given to us individually. Help us not to have wandering eyes prone to compare what we have been given to what others have.
Help us to be careful, intentional and purposeful with our thoughts and our actions. Help us to think before we step. Help us to write down and speak our careful thoughts to give them life and to reinforce our commitment to taking those steps.
Make us determined and devoted with a great steadfastness to hold to the calling that You have placed upon us to use our talents within our individual stories so that we may be faithful characters in a part of Your story. May prayers offered by ourselves and by others anchor us to Your divine strength.
Thank you so much, Lord, for being able to take a supporting personality and craft it into the leading role. You do marvelous things so far beyond what our eyes can see, our ears can hear and our minds can imagine.
In the supporting and leading name of Jesus, amen.